Entry Price: $17,150
Price as Tested: $21,610

This week, we’re driving the all-new and sleekly designed sixth generation 2017 Hyundai Elantra. Delivered in Eco trim and assuring consumers 40-mpg highway in non hybrid, fully internal combustion trim, this tester’s final price came in at only $21,610.

The sixth-generation Elantra also shows some “grown up” attributes following its compact class debut in 1990. Back then Elantra rode on a 98.4-inch wheelbase while today’s Elantra travels on a 106-inch plus wheelbase and is more in line with mid-size principles.

Considering long term return on investment (ROI) and positive owner satisfaction ratings, Elantra Eco’s price is almost too good to believe. However, there’s no misprint here.

The new Elantra Eco takes direct aim at consumers who want 40-plus highway mpg coupled with a price that won’t break the bank. In Elantra Eco’s case, the price is amazingly affordable for compact car and is offered in five distinct models, starting at a low of just $17,150 for the manual transmission SE. In succession is Elantra Value at $20,250, our tester Eco at $20,650, Elantra Sport at $21,650 and top line Elantra Limited at $22,350. Your Hyundai dealer will explain all models.

Nonetheless, we’re here to talk about the Eco model, and the near 300 miles we drove the car during our week long test. Overall, we’re more than pleased with what Hyundai consumers receive for their dollar spent.

Specifically, when you see a brand new Hyundai with a final retail price of just $21,610, one expects perhaps pretty good fuel mileage but not much more. Performance wise, it’s probably going to be an underpowered car that is good mostly for cruising at highway speeds. As for top flight safety and creature comforts, don’t expect much more than the mandated necessities.

Wrong on all counts.

Under the hood sits the all-new Eco specific 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 128-horsepower and an impressive 156 lb. ft. of torque. Not only will this engine break the tires loose from a standing start (with traction control off), it can deliver even better than the listed 40 mpg EPA number if driven gingerly and provide at least 32 mpg in the city. A recent 220-mile trip on secondary roads ended up at 40.6 mpg average on the odometer mpg indicator, a most impressive number. And what makes this even more interesting is the fact that we put the turbo 1.4 through several passing escapades, which turned out to be an easy task.

Add in the 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and the fact that the Elantra is built in Montgomery, Alabama, few cars out there can compare. So if low cost, good performance, American built and excellent fuel mileage are your top four demands, the Elantra Eco could well be your car.

The transmission in the Eco is also different than the other Elantras as a seven-speed Shiftronic dual clutch automatic helps the highway and city fuel mileage numbers. This special dual clutch automatic is Eco specific while the other Elantras that come with the bigger 2.0-liter fuel injected engine rely on a six speed automatic or six speed manual.

Elantra Eco’s new aerodynamic exterior and revamped interior are both impressive, although the interior is void of some amenities you find in more expensive Elantras. However, even though our tester came with not one option (because none are available), all passengers never felt the Eco meant a stripped down car. Included are all the powers, easy to operate and circular knob controlled stereo system with 7-inch touchscreen, SiriusXM Satellite, cruise, push button start, dual zone air conditioning, Apple, Bluetooth and Android connect features and even a hands-free trunk open feature.

Safety features are top notch, as Eco features everything that makes a car safer in our modern day era. Included are all of the electronic stability and traction controls, seven airbags, four wheel ABS brakes, rear view safety camera, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic, lane change alert all at no extra cost. Your Hyundai dealer will explain everything in detail.

Underneath, Hyundai tweaks Elantra’s independent suspension to allow better handling characteristics, especially in tighter turns. Elantra incorporates the industry standard coil over MacPherson front struts and a rear coupled torsion beam setup. Overall, it allows very good handling when united with the special Hankook “Kinergy” easy-roll (less roll resistance) 15-inch tires on nice alloy wheels.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 106.3 inches, 5.3-inch ground clearance, 2,857 lb. curb weight, 14.4 cu. ft. of cargo space, 14 gallon fuel tank and 23.8 ft. turning radius.

In summary, it’s difficult not to recommend the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco as perhaps one of the “biggest little buys” of the new model year. For a retail of just $21,610 there’s little reason not to park this fuel efficient, fine driving, peppy little car in your driveway. (Remember, no one pays retail so look for some Hyundai discounts.)
We’ve many times in this column heralded the important ROI properties of buying a new car. Elantra Eco may be the best car out there that delivers hybrid-like fuel mileage, added turbo power and impressive design aesthetics while keeping the price at an amazing minimum.

Likes: Unreal performance, outstanding MPG, new design.
Dislikes: Drum rear brakes, not much else.

— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions at greg@gregzyla.com.